Friday, April 15, 2011

Disney World 2011: Day 5

We're almost done with the Disney World posts! Yay!

In this immensely drawn out Disney World saga, I last left you with a post about our relaxing day lounging around our hotel and a short evening trip to Epcot. Day 5 finds us arriving to Disney's Animal Kingdom right before the park opened to all guests at 9 AM. We were originally trying to get here earlier since the park opened to Disney hotel guests at 8 AM, but instead, we arrived to a big crowd lining up to get in. Not a huge deal though. We just had to wait for a little while and then we were able to get in with the rest of the crowd. Lucky for us, we happened to meet up with Heather and Jason right outside the gate without prior knowledge of the other one being there yet.

When we got in, we headed directly to the safari ride. From all my reading, it was best to arrive early in the morning or late in the evening in order to get a good view of all the animals. Once it got hotter in the day, the animals would be more scarce. As all Disney rides seem to go, this one was a bit more theatrical than I had imagined. We were pretending that we were on a 2 week long safari in Africa and there was a problem in the middle of the ride with poachers stealing a baby elephant and that we were going to help chase them down. We were able to rescue the baby elephant in the end. Jadon loved that. He continued to tell everyone about it when we got home. The ride itself was pretty cool. We sat in a covered vehicle with no windows so we were able to really get up close and personal with the animals. We saw many animals that I'm not sure I've ever seen before and it was a great time to go, because they were all out. We only weren't able to see the warthogs, I think, but that's about it. We saw rhinos right next to our vehicle that we're pretty sure were the ones who were blocking the pathway at one point and we all had to stop while they passed since they're free roaming and all. It wasn't much of a wait to get in at all and Andrew says it was probably one of his favorite things we did in Disney World.

It's about a 20 minute ride, so it was about time for us to check-in to our breakfast reservations after we got off. We chose to dine at Donald's Safari Breakfast which was located at the Tusker House in the African part of the park and happened to be right by the safari ride. Jadon is a huge fan of Donald Duck and so we thought he'd love this theme. We got to take a picture with Donald before getting seated and it was just awesome for Jadon. He went up and gave Donald a big hug and smiled big for the picture, which is an amazing thing for him to do. This was seriously the best buffet that we'd had there and maybe even the best character dining we have ever done. They had so many options that we all went back multiple times to get more food. We had visits at our table from all the main characters like Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Daisy. It was a lot of fun for the kids and we were all able to get some good food in.

While the boys went to get Fast Passes to Everest. Heather and I went to the Pangani Exploration Forest Trail and went through that while the boys caught up to us. This was pretty cool though it was crowded at parts. We saw lots of fish, gorillas, and other animals. I was hoping to see a naked mole rat (you know, like Rufus from the old Disney show Kim Possible), but I probably passed it because I never saw an exhibit for it.

One of my favorite things in all of Disney World was the Finding Nemo musical. I would've gone back to watch it again if we had more time. It was so amazing. I'm not super familiar with the movie since I've seen bits and pieces but never all the way through, but I'm so in love with this production. There were live performers with puppets and it seriously was so amazing that it's hard to describe. This is definitely something you should go do if you ever get a chance to. We arrived about 10-20 minutes early (can't remember exactly) and we were seated in one of the middle sections toward the back, but the view was still awesome and I'm pretty sure it would be good from pretty much anywhere in there. It seats a lot of people so I'm sure most people who just show up right before showtime are able to get in even if you have to stand in the back, but that's just me guessing.

In 2005, Disney added a thrill ride to Animal Kingdom called Expedition Everest. It's basically a roller coaster and incorporates a Yeti in there. Someone Jason rode with on the Rock 'n' Roller coaster was debating which of these rides were better. After riding both so closely together, I think we all decided that Rock 'n' Roller Coaster was way better. Expedition Everest is unexpected as well, but the thrill in RnR was lots higher. I rode with Jason first and I was scared out of my mind that something was going to jump out at us especially since we were seated in the front, but he thankfully told me nothing would. My picture for this was just like RnR which was pure terror. Jason rode it again with Andrew next and Andrew's picture was of his eyes closed again. Definite recurring themes here at our reactions to fear.

Jadon tripped on a rock and scraped his knee and elbow pretty badly so we went to take him to the first aid center while Isabelle napped in the stroller. He had scraped his other knee a couple days earlier which made him out to be a pretty clumsy kid, but he usually doesn't hurt himself that often. We had been to the baby care center at the other parks before to change Isabelle, but we'd never needed assistance. This was a really pleasant experience. Each of the first aid centers are staffed by registered nurses and one greeted us as we entered and told her what we were looking for. She asked us to sign him into the registry and she was very quick about getting him bandaged up. We even received some extra bandages which was definitely used later on.

The atmosphere in the Animal Kingdom was definitely super relaxed and there isn't a whole lot to do here, but we enjoyed wandering around and looking at everything. Andrew took Jadon to the Boneyard while I sat with a sleeping Isabelle and then we headed over to ride the Dinosaur ride, which incorporates the movie into it. Jadon was slightly scared the whole time going through the intro, but he was a trooper and got on the ride without much complaint. It was Andrew and Jason's first time on it and it was fun to see their reactions. I, on the other hand, have already been on this once before so I was scared out of my mind for the big scare in it and I was pretty much trying to hide from it the whole time since I couldn't remember when it came. Jadon closed his eyes and clung to us, but he didn't get totally freaked out. In the picture, I think Andrew might have had his eyes closed and Jason looked amuse like always, while Jadon was sunk low in the seat and I was turned away and hiding my face. While on the ride, I realized that I probably shouldn't have gotten on it again. I was seriously horrified the whole time and that was pretty much when I truly realized that I apparently don't do well with things jumping out at me.

Isabelle had woken up while we were on the ride and she was contently playing with Heather and Kaitlyn when we came out. We took her and went to get food while the others headed over to the Lion King show which we ended up not making it to because we had to feed Isabelle. Because of the timing, we ended up not sticking around to see the last showing of the day and instead tried out the huge turkey leg there, which Jadon loved, and then headed back to our hotel for a bit before going to dinner.

We had reservations to the T-Rex Restaurant in Downtown Disney. It's owned by the same people who did the Rainforest Cafe so we thought it would be pretty cool to check out. We arrived earlier to Downtown Disney so we could get some shopping in (we got some Disney merchandise and Andrew and Jadon put together their own light sabers) and then we waited to be seated at the restaurant. The place was pretty packed even though our reservations were for 9 PM. We got a huge table next to one of the many anima-tronic dinosuars throughout the building. They have meteor showers routinely and the whole place gets darker, all the dinosaurs come to life, and the huge iceberg thing they have there changes colors. It was pretty cool. Our server was amazing. We had huge servings of food (Jason had a huge rack of ribs that hung over both sides of his plate) and I'm sad we weren't able to eat our leftovers because it was definitely delicious. I thought it was definitely a good place to check out. The food was pretty good and the atmosphere was uniquely one of a kind. I'm glad we picked this one over the Rainforest Cafe. After dinner, we headed back to our hotel and thankfully were able to catch a bus right before it took off.
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